KENYAN marathon runner, Eliud Kipchoge became the first human in the history of the world to run a marathon in under two hours, covering the 42 kilometre distance in a once inconceivable 1 hour, 59 minutes and 40 seconds.
The superhuman achievement in Vienna makes him the most successful long distance athlete of all time.
He won the Olympic marathon in 2016 and is the current marathon world record holder with a time of 2:01:39 hours. Which is only two seconds slower than the time he ran in Vienna earlier on Saturday.
“I am the happiest man,” Kipchoge said after the unofficial sub two-hour marathon, adding that he hopes to have inspired many that “no human is limited.”
Kipchoge’s first crack of going sub-two hour in Monza, Italy, was part of Nike’s Breaking2 project. This time he was being backed by petrochemical company Ineos in an attempt called the 1:59 Challenge.
Despite the achievement, the milestone won’t count as a world record.
During the race, Kipchoge followed behind a car — a condition not allowed under IAAF sanctions — and was assisted by an army of 30 pace runners.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta congratulated Kipchoge in a tweet after the marathon: “You’ve done it, you’ve made history and made Kenya proud while at it.
“Your win today, will inspire tens of future generations to dream big and to aspire for greatness,” Kenyatta added.
Speaking before the marathon, Kipchoge said he was aware that there were critics of the manufactured conditions surrounding the attempt.
“The law of nature cannot allow all human beings to think together,” the reigning Olympic marathon champion said. “In breaking the two-hour barrier, I want to open minds to think that no human is limited. All our minds, all our thoughts are parallel. But I respect everybody’s thoughts.”
He added that the 1:59 Challenge is different to competing in a race like the Berlin Marathon, where he set the current world record in 2018.
“Berlin is running and breaking a world record,” said Kipchoge. “Vienna is running and making history — like the first man to go to the moon.”